June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.346.1 - 14.346.22
Comparison of International Learning Outcomes and Development of Engineering Curricula
Various national and regional engineering accreditation bodies have developed sets of learning or program outcomes that serve as the foundation for the evaluation of curriculum quality. Some of the outcome structures are very broadly defined, leaving the details of curriculum design and the justification to the university and the accreditation evaluators. Other accreditation bodies define outcomes more thoroughly in topic and depth, with accreditation hinging on the general fit of the curriculum to these specifications.
Most of these outcome structures have been developed and used as accreditation standards predominantly over the last decade. During this time, existing curricula are usually altered and upgraded (that is, ‘retrofitted’) to meet the outcomes requirements. However, new degree programs and new engineering colleges have the opportunity to use the relevant outcomes as design specifications. Such a design ensures quality, prepares the college for future accreditation evaluation, and can be tailored to meet the needs of students and prospective employers.
This paper compares the outcomes structure and contents of several accreditation bodies, including the Engineering Council of the UK (ECUK), EUR-ACE of the EU, and ABET of the USA. Similarities and differences between the outcomes of the bodies will be highlighted. The use of these accrediting standards as the basis of design specifications for engineering degrees at the Alfaisal University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be presented. The designs for integrated BS, MS and PhD curricula were developed over a two-year period, based on the defined learning outcomes, by a committee comprised of the Founding Dean of Engineering and faculty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Cambridge and independent reviewers. Example BS and MS curricula and their fit to the outcome specifications are described.
The development of learning outcomes by accrediting and professional education organizations has taken shape and been refined during the last decade for several reasons. Primary drivers are the recognition and adoption of the continuous improvement movement in higher education and the intent of accreditation organizations to place the burden of proof for education quality on the university. The latter aspect has led to the replacement of detailed degree program content imperatives with learning (or program) outcomes that allow the university faculty to develop and demonstrate how to best educate their students. The progression of learning outcomes development by accrediting agencies is evidenced by the publication and use of expected outcomes by organizations such as the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom (ECUK)8, the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (EUR-ACE) of the European Union10, and ABET, Inc. of the United States1, 2.
Alkhairy, A., & Blank, L., & Boning, D., & Cardwell, D., & Carter, W. C., & Collings, N., & Hayhurst, A., & Milne, W., & Robinson, P., & Seering, W., & Smith, K., & Sheppard, S., & Stronge, B. (2009, June), Comparison Of International Learning Outcomes And Development Of Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5212
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